Three rescuers have been found dead after a coal mine accident in Russia’s Siberia killed 11 people.
Regional authorities said at least 11 miners and three rescuers were killed and dozens missing following an accident that filled a Siberian coal mine with smoke.
Russia’s TASS news agency, citing an unnamed emergency official, reported that 11 workers were killed when coal dust caught fire, and smoke quickly filled the Listvyazhnaya mine through the ventilation system.
The acting head of the Emergencies Ministry said three rescuers were killed, according to TASS.
The mine, located near the town of Belovo in the Kemerovo region, filled with smoke in the early hours of Thursday, with 285 people inside.
While many were evacuated, at least 35 people remained trapped, said Kemerovo governor Sergei Tsivelev.
In another telegram, the governor said 49 were injured and are seeking medical help.
“The chance of an explosion is very high. We have decided to suspend search and rescue operations until the gas concentration drops,” Tsivelev said.
President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences to the families of the miners who were killed, calling it a “great tragedy.”
“I spoke several times with the governor of the Kemerovo region [Sergei Tsivilev] “And the heads of the rescue services,” he said during a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.
“They are doing everything they can, but unfortunately, the situation is not improving, and they are now risking their lives. The necessary decisions are taken immediately. We hope that as many lives as possible will be saved.”
The coal-producing Kemerovo region, about 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) east of Moscow, has suffered fatal mining accidents for years.
The Listvyazhnaya mine is part of SDS-Holding, which is owned by the privately owned Siberian Business Consortium. There was no immediate comment from the owner.
According to the Interfax news agency, citing officials from Rostekhnadzor, Russia’s state watchdog for technology and environment, the last inspection of the Listvyazhnaya mine was carried out on November 19. The report did not provide any details on the results of the inspection.
In 2016, 36 miners were killed in a series of methane explosions at the Severnaya coal mine in Russia’s far north. In the wake of the accident, authorities analyzed the safety of 58 coal mines in the country and declared 20 of them potentially unsafe.
In another incident in 2010, 91 people were killed and 100 injured at the Raspadskaya mine in Siberia.
The accident came as a result of a methane gas explosion when more than 300 miners were inside. Then a second explosion trapped a group of rescuers.
In 2007, 110 people died after a gas explosion at the Ulyanovskaya mine in the same region.